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John Meadows the hero as he saves a late penalty to keep the Cooks unbeaten start to the year intact.

Saturday 27th January 2024





Att; 46


The Cooks welcomed county rivals Desborough Town to Compton Park this afternoon with our guests looking for the points they need to pull themselves away from the drop-zone, while the home club had their eyes set firmly on a top ten finish with both Bugbrooke and Yaxley in clear sight after the recent run of results that has seen them pick up fourteen points from the last available twenty-one. It was sunny afternoon, but temperatures were down on recent days and the breeze was blowing down towards the village end adding a distinct chill to the air. Scott Carlin’s team was unchanged from the 2-1 win over Rugby Borough two weeks previous with Ben Gough still ruled out with knee trouble. The visitors gave a start to the returning Jake Bettles up front, while Dawid Peplinski was given the nod in the centre of the defence, but Neil Healey was forced into a late change with former Cooks player Owen Brooks pulling out with an ankle injury during the warm-ups, so Kai McGee was quickly recalled into the starting eleven. Adam Randall returned to the club he had once captained in the Desborough midfield and Harry Moors also started in his usual attacking role, but there was no sign of Will Russell who had been on the bench in their previous game.

Desborough had the breeze at their backs in first half and Moors, clearly keen to make an early impression against his former employer, caught Brad Ilunga late with a challenge and Sam Anderson pulled out his yellow card with only three minutes played. Dom Wysocki went past Brady Stratford down the right wing and cut inside before having his low cross cut-out by Peplinski and then Ilunga picked up play on the half-way line before striding forward and trying a shot from 30-yards out that was always going to be too high to trouble Adam Honour in the visitors goal. Dom Ledgeway was down during these two Cogenhoe attacks and he was finally able to receive some treatment on his thigh, but showed no further effects as he came straight back onto the field. Moors tried to play Bettles in, but John Meadows got there first, then Meadows was again first to the ball as Bettles ran onto a dinked ball into the box by Aaron Davies. Luke Bullement fired over from just outside the box just before good battling by Sonny Knights just outside the box saw him pick out Bullement on the right, but Jack Connor was beaten to the ball at the near post from his low delivery.

McGee sent in a high ball from the right that Bettles got a touch on, but Meadows took it cleanly above his head while the lively Josh Drain fired over from 20-yards out. Bettles steered a volley on target from the edge of the box when completely unmarked, but didn’t connect cleanly and Meadows gathered it up, then Drain showed a burst of speed to create a shooting chance from just outside the box and he forced Meadows to dive to his right to push his powerful strike wide for a corner. Randall headed wide from a Davies free-kick, while Ollie Anderson became the second recipient of the referee’s yellow card for a pull back on the half-way line. Wysocki was a regular thorn in the Desborough defence’s side and he forced a great save out of Adam Honour with his shot from just inside the box and when the ball was played back in by Bullement, he worked hard in the centre despite the attention of several red shirts, but his eventual shot from the edge of the 6-yard block was blocked behind for a corner.

Mallard had a shot blocked following Bullement’s corner and Desborough broke quickly with the Cooks defence stretched, but a poor pass saw the opportunity go to waste with Earl Atat sweeping things up nicely inside his own half. Great defending from Peplinski saw him head an awkward ball back to his keeper under a lot of pressure from Connor, while back down the other end Drain had a couple of shots from 30-yards out, the first a low effort that bounced just in front of Meadows, but the keeper had covered it well, then his second go, another low effort, didn’t unduly trouble the more than capable keeper. Stratford whipped a ball into the box from just in front of his team’s dugout and a wicked bounce meant that Meadows had to readjust and take the ball at bar height. A great turn by Wysocki on the left saw him leave Stratford on the deck, but when he got inside the penalty area he was met by two red shirts and the chance was gone meaning the game remained goalless as we headed in for the break.


Half-Time; Cooks 0 Ar Tarn 0


It was as you were when the second half got underway, but now the Cooks had the advantage of the breeze, but it didn’t help Connor much as he ran on to a ball over the top that sailed through to Honour who had come out to the edge of his area to collect. Anderson went for goal from a good 30-yards out, but a combination of getting it all wrong and kicking into the wind meant it actually went out for a throw-in several yards in from the corner flag. There is always a buzz when Bailey Weatherly enters the field and that was certainly the case when he replaced Knights ten minutes into the second half and he so nearly created a chance with his first touch, but his pass to Connor saw his teammate go down in a challenge with Peplinksi with the Cooks claiming a foul, but Mr Anderson was not in agreement and I felt the official had got this one right.

Weatherly played a great one-two with Paddy Cichosz on the edge of the box, but sadly put a little too much weight onto his lay-off which meant Bullement had to track wide to get the ball and the momentum of the move had dissipated. Desborough broke quickly through the centre and McGee sent Drain into the box on the right and it appeared that he was about to open the scoring as he pulled his low shot across Meadows and it was heading just inside the far post when the Cooks keeper changed his balance to get down and make a very good save. Another great run down the left by Wysocki saw him manage to evade a somewhat wild challenge by Stratford before sending over a low cross that was touched away from Connor on the edge of the 6-yard box. It wasn’t a great moment for Stratford as not only did he receive a yellow card for his attempt to stop the flying wingman, but he also injured himself in the process and had to be subbed off and replaced by Jamie Pickford with 62 minutes played. Biff made his second change shortly afterwards as Bullement made way for Josh Jones and it was the Cooks who threatened again with a quickly taken free-kick just inside the Desborough half from Weatherly forcing Honour out to edge of his box to claim the ball ahead of Jones. Both teams made changes on 69 minutes with Connor surprisingly coming off for Dex Nkrumah and Connor’s former Cobblers teammate Rico Duggan coming on in place of McGee.

A long throw from Weatherly on the left created a chance for Jones just beyond the far post, but his shot only found the side-netting before Carlin made his final changes with 17 minutes still remaining as midfield duo Ben Dimond and Cichosz made was for Callum Farmer and Dalton Leon. Weatherly cut inside along the edge of the box from left and was tripped in doing so by Peplinski giving him a chance to repeat his effort at Bugbrooke, but he didn’t get over this one and it sailed over the bar. Farmer gave the ball away cheaply a few yards inside his own half and let Ledgeway break away quickly which resulted in Kieron Mobbs taking one for the team by bringing him down at the expense of a yellow card, while back down the other end Weatherly steered the ball inside to Nkrumah 20-yards out, but he didn’t find either the power or the direction he was seeking and Honour watched as it rolled the wrong side of the post.

A great knock from Ilunga picked out Jones’ run into the box from the right and he managed to touch it past Honour as the keeper came off his line, but he was unable to reach the ball again before it went behind for a goal-kick. A major talking point came down the car park end as Bettles broke into the box to the right and Mobbs came over to challenge him and the referee pointed to the spot. I have to admit I was rather surprised by the decision, but also that I was down the other end of the ground so my view wouldn’t have been as good as his. Bettles took the penalty himself on his return debut and in truth it was a poor effort but take nothing away from John Meadows who saved his spot-kick and kept the scores at level pegging with six minutes left on the clock. Nkrumah worked hard on the right before playing the ball inside to Jones who hit a decent shot from a few yards outside the box that forced Honour into a diving save, then Desborough probably should have taken the lead when Ilunga managed to get his foot to a dangerous Pickford cross but inadvertently seemed to set up Moors who fired over the top from the centre of the box, Weatherly nearly played the perfect ball to send Jones free in the box, but the wind took it through to Honour, then Meadows made another great save down the other end to deny Moors who had turned nicely from a Bettles ball in from the left and hit his low shot with some power, but the Cooks keeper saved his effort with his outstretched boot. Davies headed out a long Weatherly throw in the last real action of the game and the Cooks were forced to finish the game with ten men on the field after Jones limped off deep into stoppage time with a swollen ankle.

It is difficult to judge this game, you could argue it is two points dropped given the two league positions, but Desborough probably edged the game, and we had keeper and man-of-the-match John Meadows to thank for some excellent saves to add to his one from the penalty. The Cooks were far from their best today but remain unbeaten in 2024 and have lost just once in their last eight games. We have now met Desborough twice and although this game was better than the one we witnessed at the Waterworks Field back in August, it still means that neither side had managed a goal in the 180 minutes of football played against each other this season.

Next Saturday we entertain St Neots Town with another 2pm kick-off and with our visitors currently occupying a place in the play-offs, it is sure to be a tough one for the boys.


Cooks; 1. John Meadows 2. Earl Atat 3. Kieron Mobbs 4. Ben Dimond (sub 12. Callum Farmer 73) 5. Brad Ilunga 6. Harley Mallard © 7. Luke Bullement (sub 17. Josh Jones 63) 8.Paddy Cichosz (sub 14, Dalton Leon 73) 9. Jack Connor (sub 16, Dex Nkrumah 69) 10. Sonny Knights (sub 15. Bailey Weatherly 55) 11. Dom Wysocki.

Yellow card; Mobbs (79) Foul

Ar Tarn; 1. Adam Honour 2. Brady Stratford (sub 14Jamie {Pickford 62) 3. Ollie Anderson 4. Dawid Peplinksi 5. Aaron Davies © 6. Adam Randall 7. Josh Drain 8. Dom Ledgeway 9. Jake Bettles 10. Harry Moors 12. Kai McGee (sub 16. Rico Duggan 69). Subs not used; 15. Jadon Ata-Gyamfi 11. Owen Brooks.

Yellow cards; Moors (3), Anderson (40), Stratford (61) all fouls.

Referee; Sam Anderson

Assts; Gary Halliday & Trevor Martin





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